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Mortimer Snert and the Sledgehammer Debacle

It was a constructive day in the neighbourhood when Mortimer Snert found himself involved in a project with his super visor, this one involving the installation of an obscure intercom device in one of the local school buildings. This type of a project was always a thrill for Mort, because it invariably involved such pleasantries as digging through 3 feet of fiberglass insulation above a suspended ceiling, or poking wires down some interior wall that was loaded with plaster bits and such likes. To say that this was not one of Mort’s favourite pastimes might just be the understatement of the century so far. This particular installation involved a building that was close to 100 years olde, and extended for blocks in any given direction. So Mort had his share of climbing on ladders and poking holes and being bitten by spiders and other vermin while the super visor spent his time directing Mort and taking breaks with the teachers and generally hiding out and avoiding anything that would come close to being work related. So it came about that the super visor, who was in the habit of observing Obscure Electrical Practices, determined that this particular installation needed nothing less than a ground rod, which was to be driven through a hole in the floor in the basement and attached by some ridiculously undersized wire to the intercom device which was perched precariously on a rickety table in the machine room of the school. Now the problem with ground rods, besides the fact that they were usually eight feet long and one half inch in diameter, was that they required a rather large hammer to install them. A rather large sledge hammer, to be exact. Since the last ground rod had been installed by the super visor on a day when he was working by himself, and since the man was oh so careful with his tools, the only sledge hammer in the district had met its demise at the hands of this very man when he missed the end of the rod with the hammer head and instead struck it a sound blow right in the handle. Being an antique sledge hammer, and having suffered several such instances of mistreatment, the handle had no choice in the matter but to splinter into several pieces, sending the head flying off on a tangent and resulting in the destruction of a photocopy machine that was unfortunate enough to be in the way. Since the super visor was too busy taking coffee breaks and hiding out, it was now up to Mort to procure a new sledge hammer to complete the installation of the ground rod. It was about this time that Xavier, who worked with Mort and the super occasionally, appeared on the scene, and Mort, not wanting to be the only one to have to enjoy such an exciting shopping spree, invited Xavier to accompany him to the store. Now there were not too horribly many places in town that had such implements such as sledge hammers, so off they went to the local Atwoods farm and home store. This certainly was not one of Mort’s favourite destinations to be sure, but the selection of things was certainly better than, say, the Wal Mart. It took a bit of windshield time before either of these fellows worked up enough nerve to actually go into the Atwoods, being the lovely store that it was, complete with country music blasting out of Cobreflex horns at earsplitting levels, and employees who ran the other direction when they saw customers. Now the people at the Woods of At took great pleasure in re-arranging the store on a regular basis, and fixing it so that things that should not be together, were. So one might find shotgun shells along side the flower seeds, and lawnmower blades were beside the horse blankets. And with the ever so efficient help of the employees, a shopping trip could well last most of the day. So after plying the aisles for the better part of an hour, our two adventurers finally located the sledgehammers, right where one would expect to find them, next to the overalls. And quite a selection of sledgehammers they were presented with. Knowing the destructive tendencies of the super visor, Mort selected a nice sledgehammer with a fiberglass handle, one that was guaranteed for a lifetime. Deciding that this would be perfect, the two fellows grabbed the hammer and headed back towards the front of the store. On the way back, Mort’s attention was seized by an odd chirping noise, and feeling the need to investigate, he turned down the next aisle, and was met face to face with a pen full of small chickens. Being the farmer that he was, Mort stopped to investigate the properties of these particular chickens, having at one point in time owned a whole herd of them. It was at that point that Xavier noticed that Mort was not with him any longer, and he decided to find out what had happened. So Xavier joined Mort at the chicken pen. As did one of the employees of the Atwoods. Now might be a good time to explain that Mort and Xavier did not exactly fit in with the motif of the farm store, both of these boys having hair down to their butts, both wearing grunge flannel shirts, and Mort shouldering a 25 pound sledge hammer like a lumberjack, and both devoting their full attention to the antics of the chickens in the pen in front of them. The salesman, hoping to head off any kind of disruption, barged onto the scene and asked in a rather loud voice if he could be of any assistance to them. Mort, being astonished by the fact that someone who was employed by the store was actually not only visible, but offering help, was rendered momentarily speechless. Xavier, on the other hand, was certainly not, and wanting to take full advantage of the situation, pointed at Mort’s sledgehammer, asked for a dozen of their fastest chickens, and smiled at the guy. The sales guy, not understanding their sense of humour at all, immediately summonsed the security, who proceeded to relieve Mort of the sledgehammer and escorted both youngsters out of the store, with a directive to never, ever set foot in the store again. So they were left to go shopping at another store, and purchase a wimpy sledgehammer, and no chickens, and return to work driving grounding rods.